By Phil Hill
Over the summer I covered the drama surrounding the impending shut down of the largest college in California – City College of San Francisco, or CCSF – due to termination of accreditation. The short version is that the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) voted to end accreditation for CCSF as of July 31, 2014. Unless reversed, the loss of accreditation would likely force the 80,000 student college to shut down. CCSF would be the largest US college to date to lose accreditation.
- CCSF Accreditation Crisis: Seven Years in the Making
- CCSF Accreditation Crisis: The Dissenting Voices
- Major Twist in CCSF Accreditation Crisis: DOE Threatens Accrediting Agency
- Higher Ed Accrediting Commissions: Transparency for thee, not for me
- Postscript on accreditation transparency: Basic financials of two accrediting commissions
Since this summer there have been several lawsuits, most notably by the City of San Francisco and the CCSF faculty union (California Federation of Teachers), seeking an injunction to stop ACCJC’s removal of accreditation. The DOE findings (documented here) form much of the basis of these lawsuits that will likely come to a head soon as the superior court judge is expected to rule on the injunction this week.
Meanwhile, CCSF administration is actually supporting the accrediting commission regarding the lawsuits. As also reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, the CCSF administration is attempting to reverse the decision by working within the ACCJC process by addressing the deficiencies.
The state has replaced City College’s elected trustees with a single decision-maker, Special Trustee Robert Agrella, who recently wrote to the commission’s president, Barbara Beno, in support of the process.
He said the school evaluations “have been found to be accurate and, unfortunately in some areas, even understated in the depth of problems the college faces.”
Agrella also said the evaluation process had “revealed problems that are now being addressed to assure the long-term viability of the college.”
He is asking the commission to reconsider its decision during an appeals process that is confidential under the commission’s rules.
This means there are two chances for the accreditation decision to be reversed – either by a judicial injunction or by CCSF demonstrating enough progress to cause ACCJC to delay its decision. For its part, ACCJC so far is sticking to its guns and showing no signs of backing down.
Meanwhile, enrollment at CCSF has plummeted.
So far this year, 14,870 students have signed up for credit classes in the spring compared with 19,289 by this time last year, a 23 percent decline. And registration is down 34 percent compared with two years ago, a difference of 7,524 students, according to a daily count of spring registrations that began more than two weeks ago.
What is remarkable for such a significant decision is that the CCSF deficiencies are not related to academic quality, and no one (CCSF, City of San Francisco, faculty union) has argued that the actual accreditation findings are in error. We’re facing the biggest accreditation shut down in history, and the issue is whether procedures were followed in evaluating non-academic management. Go figure.